Peace of Mind
Katelyn Gurley is a graduate student conducting research in Dr. Guoqiang Yu’s Bio-Photonics Laboratory at the Center for Biomedical Engineering. Like most graduate students in engineering, her days consist of intense study, prototyping, poring over data and making adjustments; unlike most graduate students, however, she does not spend her days worrying about how to make ends meet. “I am able to focus on research and still have a personal life,” she says.
Katelyn’s peace of mind comes from being a recipient of a graduate fellowship from the USEC (United States Enrichment Corporation). The award is given through the College of Engineering to those who demonstrate a high degree of academic merit and promise and will cover part of Katelyn’s educational and living expenses for the 2011-2012 academic year. As a result, Katelyn can give her full attention to wrapping up work on applying new technology developed in the lab—called Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy—and not have to worry about part-time jobs or school loans. “The fellowship has definitely mitigated the stress of living on a graduate student budget,” Katelyn says. “It has liberated me to focus on what is most important to me at this time in my life.”
An electrical engineering major as an undergraduate here at UK, Katelyn developed an interest in semiconductor physics and photonics. Because she grew up around medicine, biomedical engineering offered a compelling blend of her two favorite research areas. In spite of her talent and work ethic, Katelyn knew that she would need funding in order to pursue graduate studies. Her first year was partially funded through the Jack and Linda Gill Fellowship. This year, the USEC Fellowship will allow her to finish her master’s degree without additional debt. “Without the fellowships, I probably wouldn’t have pursued my master’s,” she acknowledges.
Scheduled to graduate in May, Katelyn hopes to continue working on advances in medical technology, possibly by pursuing an M.D. or a Ph.D. Ultimately, she would like to stay in clinical technology research, where products get to market without the lengthy timetable of most medical devices. “The great thing about photonics is that it’s all non-invasive,” Katelyn explains. “So you can get products that are broadly applicable to a wide range of diseases and pathologies out there quickly. What I do is very meaningful. I’m working toward something that will benefit a larger population.”